21st Century British Muslim – solved?

I want to thank attendees at yesterdays presentation of 21st Century British Muslim – the solution? and the staff at Date Valley School, London, for providing a venue for the first run of this event for the Association of Muslim Schools.

This course is designed for faith schools looking to meet latest requirements related to SMSC, safeguarding and British values provided by outstanding student-centred teaching, without compromising unique faith school ethos, and is nothing less than an operationalisation of the reflections outlined in What comes out of the Birmingham “Trojan Horse”?


lock the door

Islamic, British, or both? Clash of the icons – an exit door at Date Valley School

We are therefore especially pleased that all participants classified Presenter’s Preparation & Methodology, Course Materials and Course in relation to expectations  as either good or outstanding.

The following headings are course units, with their LOs and relevant highlights. Paragraph heading reflect course outline and function as a summary for participants and an introduction to interested parties, including Christian and other schools serving faith communities. RE teachers looking for free, online resources on Islamic civilisational contributions will find links in relevant chapters.

The units followed ice-breaker exercise and personal introductions. (For instructions of the first CLIP used, Catch1Partner, please see Potential realised? Celebrating Ofsted Report’s 1st Birthday…)


Cooperative Learning does not require you to:
  1. make changes to your lesson plans
  2. buy or create special materials
  3. use this method through-out a lesson
  4. use this method in every lesson.
However, it  does allow you to:
  1. monitor pupils’ learning in real time
  2. integrate social skills at every turn
  3. facilitate subject learning and higher level thinking through student-centred learning
  4. secure written evidence of learning
  5. drive up attainment, progress and close achievement gaps. (see posts on the Sutton Trust)
Throughout the day, participants’ attention was drawn to practical examples of how  Cooperative Learning makes this possible.
Whats a CLIP?  The building blocks of any shake-n-bake student-centred lesson are the “Cooperative Learning Interaction Patterns” which:

  1. define step-by-step which how students interact with materials and each other
  2. are void of content

This means the same CLIP may be used again and again, using different content across all subjects. For instructions of the first CLIP used, Catch1Partner, please see Potential realised? Celebrating Ofsted Report’s 1st Birthday…

  1. First decide your lesson aims and the content (materials, questions, tasks)
  2. then choose the appropriate CLIP to meet your needs.
“CL does not run your lesson. You lead you donkey, not the other way around.”
– course leader, in-session



This is the wider context of the course objectives, especially vital given the extreme focus of immigrant communities of career relevance discussed in the previous post on the course.

  1. Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  2. Creativity & Innovation
  3. Communication & Collaboration
  4. Flexibility & Adaptability
  5. Initiative & Self-Direction
  6. Social Cross-Cultural Skills
  7. Productivity
  8. Accountability
  9. Leadership & Responsibility
The above from 2008 OECD: 21st Century Skills: How can you prepare students for the new  Global Economy? More on the other site.
I really enjoyed the CLIP where we had to move around and  find a partner. I am usually quite shy when meeting new people, so this forced me to actually get up and initiate a conversation with a person that I hadn’t met before.” 

– Participant, 21st Century British Muslim, Date Valley School, 2015



During the course of this unit, students will…
  1. …define a range of values and activities through negotiation (What does “wearing a cap mean? What’s a cap? Who wears caps? What’s the signal it sends?”).
  2. …define which values and activities are “Islamic,” “British” or both.
  3. …negotiate the meaning of these terms in each case

…through negotiation precisely define which aspects of values and activities that are “Islamic” or not, by using a tailored Think-Pair-Share to place them appropriately in Venn Diagrams.

We underlined the necessity of pupils to routinely take notes at every turn before, during and after interaction with other students. We exemplified tailoring assessment to on-the-fly issues using variations of Catch1Partner. Also see resources found on this blog, such as Monitoring and real-time feedback in the Cooperative Learning classroom
During the course of this unit, students will….

  1. discover which areas of Islam are focused on by non-Muslims
  2. discover which are seen as positive and negative by non-Muslims
  3. reflect on reasons for these opinions

integrating vital cross-curricular skills:

  1. use skimming and scanning techniques
  2. identify key points in a text
  3. effective note taking
  4. Prepare an oral summary by recapping and restructuring information; understanding and memorization

See Norwich High School for Girls; A tailored workshop lesson plan and following posts, for a detailed lesson plan, including the spider diagramming.

During the course of this unit, students will…

  1. …discover the greatness of Muslim intellectual heritage and civilizational contributions.
  2. …feel pride and a sense of worth and self-respect.
  3. …perceive that Islam historically has promoted scientific and technological discovery and enquiry.

…relate the above to the current situation of Muslims in the UK….reflect on what this means to their own future lives as Muslims in Britain.

For this Unit I used the Discover the Muslim Heritage in our World. Science Activities for 11-16 year olds… from the 1001 Inventions Abu Dhabi Teachers’ Pack We simply staged the lesson on page 71-79 with a series of CLIPs . This material is freely available to download courtesy of http://www.1001inventions.com, and is a useful resource for RE teachers looking to provide another angle on Islamic history. The 1001 Inventions Teacher’s Pack is available to download free of charge here. (Click here to download the supplements for Scotland).
1001 teacher pack
This unit provided a participants with an opportunity to reflect on staging a lesson using CLIPs, and provided conclusive evidence that Cooperative Learning does deliver what it promises:
  • materials were not changed.
  • all questions in the plan were answered
  • pupils’ learning monitored in real time
  • social skills integrated at every turn
  • subject learning and higher level thinking & communication facilitated
  • written evidence of learning secured
  • Individual Accountability, Positive Interdependence, Equal Participation, Simultaneous Interaction at every stage ensured
“Looking forward to using some of the clips in Islamic Studies to incorporate SMSC Higher Level Thinking Skills and critical engagement.”
21st Century British Muslim, Date Valley School, 2015


Here we presented how to use a science lesson to promote these aims. Distillation, the means of separating liquids through differences in their boiling points, was invented around the year 800 by Islam’s foremost scientist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, who transformed alchemy into chemistry, inventing many of the basic processes and apparatus still in use today – liquefaction, crystallisation, distillation, purification, oxidation, evaporation and filtration.


As well as discovering sulphuric and nitric acid, he invented the alembic still, giving the world intense rosewater and other perfumes and alcoholic spirits. Ibn Hayyan emphasised systematic experimentation and was the founder of modern chemistry.

The same basic methods are used in fractional distillation plants at oil refineries to convert crude oil into gas and petroleum. The following questions were then posed to the class:
  1. “If the Muslims invented the distillery- why not the the oil refinery?
  2. “Think about your answers and look at the Muslims in the UK;which skills are needed right now?”
  3. “What can we, as Muslims, do to acquire these skills?”
Using the Catch1Partner below, these questions were posited in an engaging open class setting to ensure maximum simultaneous interaction and equal participation, giving everyone room to discuss freely with a variety of partners. At this point, participant were so used to the Catch1Partner format that they were able to change partners in under ten seconds, a vital class skill. 
Dropped between each question was the ever-useful: “In turns, summarize what you discussed with your previous partner!”
 C1P slide
I will definitely use the CLIPs where pupils have to think about their own argument and counter-argument to an issue that they don’t personally agree with. I teach Citizenship, and students always have to think about the opposite point of view.” 

– Participant

21st Century British Muslim, Date Valley School, 2015
During the course of this unit, students will…

  • have made a safe enquiry into potential conflict areas between Islamic and British Values
  • be able to describe, correlate, criticise, and synthesise some of the viewpoints and arguments about freedom of expression, religious tolerance, the role of media, Islamic vs. secular (British) values, and consequences of terrorism, specifically related to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.
 This unit modeled the full “Sympathy for the devils” lesson plan, using original materials. Especially for Muslim children, with very set viewpoints, stepping into the role of their opponent and actually arguing against their own opinion is a taxing experience, but vital for understanding and integrating the intellectual, cultural and historical context from which perceived anti-Islamic statements arise. Sympathy for the Devils, indeed…
Final steps were feedback and session assessment using Simultaneous Write-Round. See video of Ms Rebecca Lamb, an NQT in Year 6 at Stalham Academy, describing some of her experiences adopting CLIPs from the Skills & Mastery course, including Write-Rounds and Think-Pair-Share.
Educationalist intersted in the overarching aims of this course are invited to attend Healing Fractures II,  16 March 2015.

The workshop will enquire into various themes, including:

  • systemic issues and the purpose of ‘modern’ education in secular post-modernity
  • community building boundaries; Birmingham, et al.
  • the new role of religion and Religious Education:  SMSC, PHSE, Citizenship & British values
  • student-centred paradigms; renegotiated power relationships or egotism?
  • social constructivism as a democratic skill set; British values as an example
  • beyond now; P4C, the Trivium and the Islamic connection in English educational history
  • Islam and Muslim alternative education; problem for whom or solution to what?

Please contact me on contact@werdelin.co.uk for more information.

I shall attempt to answer a few of the feedback questions in ensuing posts. Get notifications of related posts on twitter.

werdelin.co.uk is the business end of cooperativelearning.works.
For reflections on adopting Cooperative Lesson as a whole school ethos by Ms Gillespie, Deputy Head at Stalham Acacemy, see this video.

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